A slew of devastating natural disasters struck the U.S. in 2018, resulting in insurance claims that cost billions of dollars. While home insurers are usually hit the hardest by these disasters, auto insurers are affected as well. Additionally, distracted driving has led to an increase in accidents on the road. These factors, coupled with the fact the the auto industry is moving toward higher-tech cars that are more expensive to repair, contribute to high losses for insurers.
Liability auto insurance protects you from that worst case scenario by providing a cushion between your assets and the amount you’re on the hook for. For this reason, choosing the right auto liability limits is the most important part of your car insurance quote comparison. NerdWallet typically recommends having at least as much liability coverage as your net worth.
Combined loss ratio and direct written premium information for private auto insurance was gathered from S&P Global, a financial data resource for the insurance industry. Rate increase figures were obtained from RateFilings.com and represent a weighted average across the 50 states and the District of Columbia based on written private auto insurance premiums.
An additional possible contributor to future rate hikes is the increased frequency in car crashes attributed to distracted driving—caused in large part by more people using their phones while driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 2.443 million people were injured in distracted driving crashes in 2015, which is an increase from 2.217 million people in 2011. Insurers respond by raising rates to make up for the increase in insurance claims they have to pay out.
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State legislators set limits on how much a company can increase your rates after a crash. Our hypothetical accident resulted in only $2,000 worth of damage. That caused average annual rates to spike by $1,000 or more in some states, while others jumped by far less. One thing’s for sure: Your rates will definitely increase after an at-fault accident, so be sure to compare car insurance rates if you have one on record.
A lot goes into an auto insurance rate quote, including your ZIP code, coverage levels, marital status, annual mileage, driving history and vehicle make, year and model. In most states, your gender and credit history are also used to determine rates. And again, the reason auto insurance comparison shopping is so important is because rates between companies are different for each person, too.
The combination of record-setting natural disasters, an uptick in distracted-driving accidents and the increasing prevalence of tech-loaded vehicles that are expensive to repair mean insurers are likely to raise rates in 2019. These factors, coupled with the fact that insurers have failed to turn an underwriting profit in recent years—despite year-over-year rate increases—indicate that drivers will pay more for car insurance in the coming year.
But liability coverage levels come in threes — you’ll probably see something like 50/100/50 up to 250/500/250 in typical policies. You can think of these limits like: individual injuries / total injuries / property damage. Insurers are a little more technical, calling them bodily injury liability, total bodily injury liability and physical damage liability.
I don't believe it is fair that insurance companies are allowed, by law, to check your credit report. I have worked my fingers to the bone to attain good credit. My credit score was excellent. After having a new HVAC system put in it went down to "good." My car insurance went up $139. It it very unfair to pay more for insurance because my debt increased. My finances should not be any business of the insurance companies. I always pay my bills on time and have never been late with a premium payment. So So UNFAIR!!
A history of chronic disease or other potential health issues with an individual or family, such as heart disease or cancer, may result in paying higher premiums. Obesity, alcohol consumption, or smoking can affect rates as well. An applicant typically goes through a medical exam to determine whether he has high blood pressure or other signs of potential health issues that may result in premature death for the applicant and increased risk for the insurance company. People in good health typically pay lower life insurance premiums.